What would you do if you knew you were about to lose your job and never again could take up the same role?
That’s exactly what happened to Victoria Pendleton. She retired from her career as an Olympic cyclist after the 2012 Olympics and at that point possibly had no idea what would happen to her next.
However, she then did something quite unexpected and that no one would have guessed. She embraced the change and retrained as a jockey. Many might have doubted her ability to make the transition, yet she has been successful.
The Inevitability of Change
We live in a world where change is inevitable, as Victoria Pendleton can testify.
It feels like every day we’re faced with technological advancement, new ways of doing things and new products.
They affect us at a business level, yet they also drive personal change too. Hands up if in the last few years you’ve used online banking; online shopping; Zoom, WhatsApp or Facebook video calling to keep in touch with friends and family; a virtual exercise class or learned how to do something by watching a YouTube video?
Of course you have, yet 30 years ago you probably couldn’t have imagined yourself doing this on a regular basis or even at all!
Think about the plethora of self-improvement groups and posts on social media. It seems like we’re constantly being advised how to improve our body, our eating, our looks, our lifestyle, our relationships and our minds. The cries of make change in your world or your life might be starting to feel a bit hackneyed, but the truth is that if we want to change our lives, we can.
The pace of and push for change can be relentless, yet if we can manage to find a balance between keeping up with major trends whilst not losing our mind to the latest fad, it can really help us to make progress with our life by taking us out of a rut or stretching our comfort zone.
We hear and read stories of people who have gone through massive changes – recovery from trauma, achieving financial freedom after bankruptcy, successful rehabilitation after prison – the list goes on. People also successfully face everyday changes like redundancy, house moves, relationship breakdowns and new jobs.
Sometimes these changes are thrust upon us. Other times we ourselves instigate a change because we want to make our lives better or do something different. Ultimately, we have a choice about whether we do this with or without purpose.
Change for change’s sake?
Change for change’s sake doesn’t always mean progress and can cause confusion and overwhelm. If we constantly change how we do things, at some point we might end up spinning around aimlessly unless we have a goal in mind.
So, it’s good practice to ask ourselves “Why am I doing this?” “What do I want to achieve?”
Yet sometimes change with no particular purpose can be uplifting. There’s an old saying that a change is a good as a rest and this is often the case. Going away for a few days – whether for business or pleasure – can be a motivating experience because we connect with new people and places.
Small changes to familiar habits can have a beneficial effect because we see new things, or old things in a new way. Not every change means recreating our entire life in a bold or dramatic way. Often gradual changes bring about the longest-lasting impacts.
Your personal barometer
Let me ask you though, how do you know when change is a good thing?
What does your personal barometer tell you about whether to embrace or avoid change?
It’s not always as simple as asking: is there something positive in it for me?
Because the stark truth is that often the changes that are the most beneficial for us in the long run are the very ones we railed against at the outset or dragged our feet over for a long time. “I only wish I’d done this sooner” can be a familiar refrain.
When we’re faced with unplanned or unwelcome change, our barometer may very well be set to stormy, yet as we all know, at some point every storm is followed by sunshine and calm.
It doesn’t mean that we should always embrace change that comes our way. Some things can and should be resisted. We need to develop the wisdom to recognise when to take a stand and when to go with the flow.
When it comes to assessing the impact of change, it’s up to us to determine whether the change will be, or has been positive or negative. Other people can advise, support, coach and give their opinions but these are based on outward appearances. Only we can tell what the internal impacts are.
So how can we finely tune our barometer to be more aware of when to embrace change?
Calibrating your barometer
Read on for 5 ways you can make sure your internal barometer is properly calibrated.
1. Adopt a Growth Mindset
If we have a fixed mindset, we tend not to have flexibility of thought and accept what we have as our lot in life. Change throws us because we think we don’t know how to do anything other than what we’ve always done. We can become locked in a victim mentality, where we believe that “bad things always happen to me.” We want things to stay the same because that’s comfortable and safe. The inner voice of someone with a fixed mindset will be very self-critical and full of doubt.
Conversely, a growth mindset assumes that nothing stays the same and change is ever-present and an opportunity to learn and acquire new skills and knowledge. Someone with a growth mindset recognises that change promotes new thinking, new ways of doing things, expansion and limitless possibilities. The inner voice of someone with a growth mindset will be full of optimism, courage and self-belief.
When faced with a challenge listen to your inner voice and learn to recognise if it’s coming from a fixed or growth mindset. If the voice is coming from a fixed mindset, you have the option to talk back to yourself in a growth mindset voice. Then remember that you also have a choice about what actions to take.
2. Develop greater self-awareness and acknowledge your mistakes
If the change has happened to you, learn to be aware of your reactions and to understand that your emotions and views may change over a period of time. Keep using a growth mindset self-narrative to keep you focused on accepting what you can’t change, changing what you can, and remaining positive about the present and the future.
If you’re the one with the power to make the change and it’s driven by a need to live your life differently, think about what you’re not satisfied with, what mistakes you’ve made and what you can learn from them. Identify the root cause and then set about changing it. Be honest with yourself. If your behaviours or thought processes need to be change, don’t fall into blaming your mistakes on external factors.
3. Set goals that stretch you
One sure thing about change is its power to take you out of your comfort zone. That can be scary and limiting. However remember that it’s you who defines it as such. You also have the capacity to see it as a fantastic opportunity for self-improvement and learning.
Set yourself clear goals for improvement. If these feel too big, break them down into smaller goals that feel more easily achievable. Then stick with your plan and try not to let yourself revert to old habits even if it feels uncomfortable. If you do lapse, don’t beat yourself up – just identify the triggers and then try to avoid or eliminate them.
4. Spend time around the right people
If you’re making quite big change to a habit or behaviour etc. aim to associate with people who will support and egg you on. Spend less time with those who are jealous of your success or who want to tear you down because you’re change is challenging them to change! It can be helpful to find an accountability partner.
Whatever you do, don’t compare yourself with other people. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy”. Comparing yourself to others can be depressing, intimidating and frustrating. We’re all different and achieve things at different speeds. All you need to focus on is your own progress, achievements and successes. And celebrate them!
5. Persist and keep going
In any change, there’s usually a point at which everything starts to feel too hard. That’s exactly the point at which you dig in deep and keep going. The most challenging time always comes just before a huge breakthrough. Persist through that and the learning and growth it brings is immense.
If you find change a struggle then learning NLP will benefit you hugely to adopt and maintain a growth mindset, develop greater self-awareness and set goals that stretch you!
It will also help you build rapport with people who’ll support you and be your cheerleader through change.
And it will skyrocket your internal strength and self-belief to see your plans through – guaranteed.